Schools’ boycott spreads

Written By: - Date published: 1:38 pm, June 25th, 2010 - 60 comments
Categories: education - Tags: ,

Just a few days ago I wrote about schools in Dunedin and Invercargill refusing to participate in National’s flawed, damaging “national standards” process. Well it seems that the boycott is spreading:

National Standards
Press Release: Auckland Primary Principals’ Association

After significant deliberation, APPA recommends that its members cease to attend any training around the implementation of the National Standards. APPA believes that the government’s National Standards policy is irreconcilably flawed, confused and unworkable. The standards are not in fact standards and therefore cannot be moderated to provide valid, reliable and consistent achievement data.

APPA reminds the Prime Minister and Minister of Education that the key issues concerning National Standards as raised by leading New Zealand academics in an open letter dated 19 November 2009 remain unanswered. The academics stated that the National Standards system ‘will not achieve intended goals and are likely to lead to dangerous side effects”. …

If these fundamental issues are not addressed, APPA will need to take further action.

It’s good to see teachers putting the welfare of the children first, and refusing to participate in a process which will do no conceivable good, and may do considerable harm. Dunedin, Invercargill, Auckland – who’s next?

Update: According to Morning Report this morning, Canterbury, Northland and other regions may be following Auckland…

60 comments on “Schools’ boycott spreads ”

  1. really 1

    Labour flunkies makin’ trouble

    • What a witty and insightful comment really.

      Any proof that National Standards actually does anything important like, and I am having a stab in the dark here, improves education standards?

    • Bright Red 1.2

      we oughta run ’em outta town.

      The only person linked to schools I’ve heard speak in favour of national standards is President of the New Zealand School Trustees Association Lorraine Kerr – not a professional educator, just a Tory.

      Her questionaire to boards of trustees on support of national standards attracted 18 replies, 14 for. She spun that as massive support for national standards http://www.thestandard.org.nz/lorraine-kerr-national-standards-schools-money/

      • marsman 1.2.1

        Lorraine Kerr? Any relation to Uber-Neoliberal Roger Kerr?

      • ianmac 1.2.2

        I don’t think that NZSTA has many members. It is voluntary to join and over the last 20 years, their membership has dwindled because they do not represent the concerns of schools. They consult only with a narrow band of politicians and Kerr speaks for herself not schools.

    • Trevor Mallard 1.3

      I’d bet majority of Auck Principals didn’t vote Labour in 2008. Hope it will be different next year.

  2. Croc 2

    Democracy in action. Can’t wait to see Tolley squirm

  3. really 3

    Are you saying that Iain Taylor *isn’t* a Labour flunkie?! ha ha ha. Oh please stop it!

  4. Pete 4

    And ‘national standards’ in action is getting more negative finger-pointing at teachers.

    Observe Hill-Cone’s column in the herald (at least many of the commentors are onto it):
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10654289

    And I quote:
    “The real problem here though, is not the national standards but the teachers themselves. I might support the Education Minister’s campaign to shake up the arrogant antiquated teachers union with its tenure for all, but damned if I want my small daughter being collateral damage.”

    • andy (the other one) 4.1

      Check the time and date stamp on the article Monday 28th June 2010 3.45 am. Maybe she has written the article before the parent teacher interview aswell.

      Hill Cone has done the typical, I want standards for all but I don’t need them for my kid cause they are too one size fits all. Then sho goes on about how its all one way comunication when teachers rate kids. Except she gets the NZ Herald megaphone and her little darlings teacher gets no right of reply.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 4.2

      Hill Cone thought the ‘education’ her 5 yr should be getting would limited to sitting on a mat .

  5. Craig Glen Eden 5

    I have not seen anyone who is not a tory who does support National Standards. Meetings I attended were stacked with National Party people who loved to play Im not a professional just a parent but I think this is great for my children. These people were all addressed by the National MP using their first names it was just plan sad.

    • ianmac 5.1

      Those Nats who spoke at the Ministers meeting that I went to, did not address any of the Nat Stds but spoke of “other stuff.” Too embarrassed to actually ask about the effect of Nat Stds?
      The local paper reported that most supported the Minister at the meeting but that was patently untrue.
      Anyway good on the Principals. Have to be brave to stand up for princples and what is best for kids.

      • mickysavage 5.1.1

        That is the problem. It has become a “solution” for a collection of disjoint ideas many involving a complete misunderstanding of the education system.

        It is a publicity campaign that is being used to change the education system for the worse.

        It is prejudice wrapped up as “reform”.

        And most damning it will not improve educational standards.

        Why are we doing this again?

        • Draco T Bastard 5.1.1.1

          Because our “democratic” system allows the party in power dictatorial control. This means that when they decide to do something they will do it no matter what the evidence is against it.

  6. tc 6

    What’s it costing? 20mill or something like that….for no extra testing at all just collation of material that existed before they were even elected.

    In the real world we call that a complete waste of money……upskill in excel or get some education minstry person to do a report writing course on the existing data.

    FFS wake up people this is all about ranking schools to rob them of even more money by saying ‘you’re not up to scratch’……some schools never will be in certain areas….it’s called education for all….regardless of your background/location/circumstances.

  7. ellenun 7

    I’m a primary school teacher and the consensus amoung my colleagues is that there may be some useful stuff in all this national standards business but it’s fraught with difficulty and really needs to be scaled back and trialled. By the way, I’ve taught under @really’s ‘labour flunkie’ principal and my enduring memory is a staff meeting where it was politely suggested which way we should vote at a certain general election, and I can tell you it wasn’t for Labour!

    • really 7.1

      So, how did the ‘non-partisan’ union rep Iain Taylor suggest his staff vote at a General elction ellenun?

  8. I’m a Primary School Principal and in my opinion the stuff in National Standards about teachers being the best people to assess children’s progress and achievement (whilst being plainly self obvious) is the only bit worth keeping. Otherwise the whole thing is ideological bunkum wrapped up in teacher hating 1800’s newspaper.

    To Auckland and Southland add Northland.

    The house of cards that National Standards is built on is, quite correctly, crumbling.

    A final thought now the Ministry of Education and its CEO have felt the wrath of League Tables http://www.teu.ac.nz/?p=10179 are they still in favour of them? Have they considered that they just might be part of the problem?

    • r0b 8.1

      I’m a Primary School Principal

      I salute you, and all teachers. Tough job.

      A final thought now the Ministry of Education and its CEO have felt the wrath of League Tables

      Hah! Good call.

  9. Kia-ora Koutou.

    We are currently, in our schools, in the process of putting into practice a new curriculum which was the result of years of careful research (into worldwide proven best practice), consultation and planning. NACT now proposes to make changes based on ideology which have already been proven failures in the US and UK. Not only are their proposals not based on evidence, but they refuse to trial them and wish to introduce them at the same time as major curriculum changes, masking any useful assessment of effects.

  10. George.com 10

    Anne Tolleys response on the 6 pm news about Principals boycotting the governments ‘training’ was that the Principals need to talk to her about their concerns. Was she trying to be ironic I wondered. Problem is, her government has not been listening when concerns about the NS have been raised. Is this a new and genuine commitment from the Minister to actually listen and make required changes, or mere polikiting in the face of criticism.

  11. George.com 11

    This off the National Radio website:

    Ms Tolley says the action is political and the Ministry of Education has been open to changing its training for the national standards. But association president Iain Taylor disagrees, saying the association wrote to Ms Tolley about the matter in May but has yet to receive a reply.

    I guess the challenge for the Minister is to follow through on her claim to being open to discussion and make the changes that are required.

  12. burt 12

    Of course there was no discourse when NCEA was introduced. The sooner we adopt a single assessment system in our state schools that’s internationally proven and workable for the magic triangle of teachers, students and parents and stop treating how we measure academic ability as a political football the better.

    I think we need national standards because we can’t keep pretending all schools and all teachers are equal and continue dealing with anomalies via avoidance of comparisons.

    I can’t believe people would rather not know what the odds of a good education are at the school they choose,. Oh hang on, they don’t choose a school do they – they choose a house and that has a neighbourhood which has a school allotted to it.

    • Fabregas4 12.1

      ‘I think we need national standards because we can’t keep pretending all schools and all teachers are equal and continue dealing with anomalies via avoidance of comparisons’.

      Tell me again how National Standards will address this?

      The Minister will tell you that differences in children’s achievement are more prevalent within schools than between them. Though of course children in lower decile schools are always behind the eight ball as they don’t have the benefit of social and school capital that their richer mates have. Hence the fact that any league tables can largely be written now – decile 7-10 at the top and decile 1-3 at the bottom (with some exceptions here and there).

      • burt 12.1.1

        I don’t have a lot of argument with what you are saying, but I don’t think status quo is the answer to all the current day issues and disparities of outcomes.

        • Fabregas4 12.1.1.1

          I agree Burt. Here is the answer and some level of evidence.

          Fix up the disparity across our whole society.

          The gap between the haves and have nots widened by the greatest amount in history between 1984 and Helen Clarks Labour Govt being elected. During this period the achievement tail grew by the greatest amount in our history. Labours work in the 9 following years (including but not limited to Working for families, a kinder social welfare system, and increased funding of early childhood education and schools) was along with some policies such as Ka Hikitia and programmes such as Kotahitanga reducing the tail.

          Largely any problems in education are a reflection of problems in society. You can blame teachers and principals, nanny state, whatever you like, but if our society has problems schools will have them.

          Tax Cuts for the rich won’t help, neither will more assessment in the form of these Standards.

          Good honest, caring, people focussed policies will.

        • Fabregas4 12.1.1.2

          That’s fine but then don’t go about suggesting that National Standards are the answer when every educational expert is telling us otherwise because then you are advocating that anything is better than what we have which quite clearly is not true.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 12.2

      You seem to be confusing assessment with teaching. How can you teach and assess individual students with a yes/no dichrotomous answer for only three subject areas? How will that help my childs teacher at the start of next year?
      We have no shortage of standardised tests already- the new one is worst I’ve seen by far.

      • burt 12.2.1

        You are right, we don’t have a shortage of standardised tests. None are compulsory and none appear to be consistently applied. You complained that the current reporting system is worthless, yet you are defending the mish mash of tools being inconsistently used that produce that report.

        I think you hear you load and clear though, How Labour managed it was good (eventhout the outputs are worthless) and what National are doing is bad (and will be worthless).

    • Of course there was no discourse when NCEA was introduced

      What absolute utter piffle. The introduction of NCEA involved consultation and trials and an extended period. Unlike National Standards …

      Burt how about you come up with some evidence?

  13. BLiP 13

    There’s no point in anyone attending these so-called Training Sessions. Three teachers I have spoken to and who attended the sessions report that the “instructors” were unable to answer basic questions and get stroppy when pressed for a “best guess”/considered opinion type answer. One instructor’s promises to “get back to you on that” have not been kept, and another was spotted weeping in her car afterwards.

    Victims all over the place. Thanks National Ltdâ„¢ – I’m lovin’ it.

    • ianmac 13.1

      It does seem that the Ministry is the meat in the sandwich. It must be very hard to present and promote a program which is without substance or rigour, and those in the MOE know that. It would be like being tasked to prove that UFO are truly staffed by aliens and should be part of the school program. Or maybe teach the ghost culture.
      Could be that it is a cynical ploy to divide the teacher and teachers/parents so that sweeping changes like Bulk Funding can fill the vacuum?

      • Fabregas4 13.1.1

        And a major fall out of this is that it has been divided and is dividing parents/teachers/principals/ministry/school advisors – when all relevant research shows that these links are crucial to achievement. I understand that the school advisors are being told that the will not be allowed to work with schools who are not actively working towards the introduction of Nationals Standards – this is obviously all about the kids!

        All the while the Ministry who trade on things being ‘evidence based’ and “best evidence synthesis’ have not a jot to support the introduction of this rubbish.

        • BLiP 13.1.1.1

          The Ministry is yet another of the several government departments which have been infested with “generic” managers who last worked in the supply division of a baked beans factory. Armed with their “rah-rah rev-it-up for the sales-team” bollocks they are sending these poor souls out to face angry and confused teachers with nothing substantial to support the policy other than the same sales-pitch they received from HQ. Teachers can spot bullshit from a mile away and this particular effluent trail leads right back to John Key’s office and his Crosby/Textor power-at-all-costs policy unit.

          Epic work by the teachers. Like any employees, they are required to “stop the process” when they see instructions likely to lead to harm. There’s going to be shit to pay for it, but if they can prevent yet more children being harmed in a system ostensibly arranged around their best interests, teachers, in this instance, truly are fighting the good fight.

  14. Zaphod Beeblebrox 14

    The problem is that the entire school report system has become confusing and frankly worthless.

    My son bought his report home today. Normally it lists Writing, Reading and Maths and describes his achievement level as achieving above, at or below average- with a brief summary.
    His report for all subjects now says- ….is on track to reach the national standard by the end of the year.
    Speaking to other parents they seemed confused by the moronic simplicity of the way information is presented.
    When I asked his teacher what it meant, teacher said he was doing great but no-one had worked out how the standards were derived. The national standard for his age group was so low for his students and frankly reporting like this was a waste of time, but it was school policy to adopt the new standard.
    One sure way to condemn this stupid system is obviously to follow its intent.
    oh, for a bit of qualitative assessment!

    • burt 14.1

      But that works for the teachers Zaphod. The ones complaining that don’t want another whole new set of tools.

      Given the zero chance of NZ politics ever stopping this ‘rebuild the assessment tools from the ground up every 15 years’ malarkey I find myself in agreement with Trevor Mallard, why didn’t National use Astle for this purpose. Labour might have been too wishy washy to make it compulsory, but that was all National had to do as step 1. Easy, deliver on election promise with what appears to be a workable system, all be it home grown and relatively unproven over time.

      Only explanation for doing it their way was because they could! Classic bloody flip flop BS that will just be reversed next time Labour get the levers.

      Educational assessment policy is a disgrace entirely the making of petty political corner pissing.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 14.1.1

        Fair enough, I don’t really understand the political subtleties of what Mallard and Tolley are saying which ius at another level. The problem for me that in order to achieve uniformity you are simply dumbing down the whole assessment system to a yes/no level which is worthless.

        I understand Tolley’s intent (to give simple, easy to understand measures), but it ends up giving no information for anyone- apart from the bleeding obvious. It will be great for lazy teachers but really bad for any parents unless they ask the right questions

        • burt 14.1.1.1

          You said; “The problem is that the entire school report system has become confusing and frankly worthless”. and that national standards will dumb it down and make it worthless.

          Are you just being cantankerous or are you making it up as you go?

          • Zaphod Beeblebrox 14.1.1.1.1

            Maybe you’re right- I am a bit cantankerous when it comes to the school report system at the moment. Each year I see less and less detail and thought go into school reports. Each year i’m told that I should be proud because my kids have surpassed some committee created arbitary level of testing (which incidentally has a different title each year).

            Last year we are told that the solution to our education woes are at hand- another assessment system! When it arrives I find that all description is gone just a simple yes no answer. Which box do you think my kids will be in next year.

  15. burt 15

    It would be very interesting to see if there is any correlation between schools that boycotted Astle and schools that are now planning to boycott national standards.

    I would also understand schools that might have embraced Astle balking at new standards, but the shout of ‘What we have works just fine’ means different things coming from theses schools than from ones that haven’t accepted Astle.

    This information is not being clearly introduced into the debate about what national standards actually means to schools, schools we conveniently say are all doing pretty well thank you very much.

    • Irascible 15.1

      AsTTle is a teaching tool designed to provide information about the student’s knowledge and mastery of the skills related to English reading & writing, Maori reading & writing and mathematics skills. It becomes an aid in designing the school / class syllabus to meet the needs of a specific cohort of students. It is, therefore, a flexible tool.
      National Standards are not designed as a teaching tool they’re designed as an accountancy device – measure the input against the output assuming that the workers are dealing with standard articles that can be manipulated into the desired product package. They are, therefore, inflexible and result in, as has been the result in the US, the workers teaching to the test and ignoring the needs of the students.
      National Standards has other effects that are even more insidious – league tables that advantage higher socio-economic placed schools, moves to “incentivise” teachers by introducing pay based on results from the national standards testing – which usually means that those students in most need of assistance get sidelined as schools and individual teachers reach for the students who will deliver the needed results – and, as in the US, the placing of resources where National Standards results are expected to be high (rewarding the achievers ) and a reduction to places where results are low / poor.
      Tolley and the NACT government do not understand what education is about only that media commentators like DHC want to cane teachers so that they can become denizens of the DHC “real world” instead of dealing with very human issues and processes.

      • Trevor Mallard 15.1.1

        AsTTle is also pretty good at identifying teachers professional learning needs too.

  16. George.com 16

    It seems to me that the trainers who are charged with delivering the professional development for the Standards are being placed in an invidious position. They are being told to work with an initiative many seem to lack faith in whilst, due to the hasty and rushed implementation, they are receiving their training on the Standards only weeks before teachers do. It is a case of making it up as they go along.

    I recently heard someone explain the current shambles along these lines. Schools are being required to implement and explain to parents the governments policy of National Standards, without adequate training and knowledge. The PD trainers are unable to clearly explain the National Standards to teachers because the Ministry is unable to clearly explain the National Standards to the trainers. The Ministry is uable to clearly explain the National Standards to the trainers because the Minister is unable to clearly explain the National Standards to her Ministry. Ultimately, the responsibility goes back to the Minister for embarking on a hasty development and a hasty implementation of the package. If the Minister is not clear, don’t expect anyone else to be.

    • ianmac 16.1

      Exactly George. Who would be willing to work in MOE? Any takers? Hoi! Come back!

    • Fabregas4 16.2

      Though the head of the MOE, Mrs Karen Sewell, has been very vocal on the National Standards issue when visiting Principal groups. She stated at our meeting that ‘if Principals are opposed to the Standards then they can always find a different job”. I thought at the time that this was from the Tolley school of consultation and was entirely consistent with the professional respect that the minister has shown for education experts across the country.

      It is extremely rich for Tolley to talk about the need for dialogue – this whole process has been absent of this from the MOE and government and as we speak the NZPF are finding it near impossible to have discussions with her as are the NZEI (who by the way are not merely the teachers union but a longstanding champion of quality education in our country).

  17. Dan 17

    I think the love affair the Minister has with things American in Education should be read from this perspective.:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/thewrongstuff/archive/2010/05/17/diane-ravitch-on-being-wrong.aspx

    and this:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1862444,00.html

  18. Dan 18

    Whoops, my edit did not work.

    I think the love affair the Minister has with things American in education should be read from this perspective.:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/blogs/thewrongstuff/archive/2010/05/17/diane-ravitch-on-being-wrong.aspx

    and this:

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1862444,00.html

    The first is a fascinating proponent of national standards in the States who now deems the “reforms” she advocated as “deforms”.
    The second is a Time article on how a ” reformer” fired hundreds of teachers, and proposed to pay double the salary if they went for a one year tenure which stayed if they improved the results of the kids they taught. Needless to say, we are still waiting on the long term results. Our beloved leader flew to the States to learn from Ms Rhee.

  19. ianmac 19

    Canterbury Principals have come out in support for the findings of the Auckland Principals, on National Radio this morning.
    The Minister saying that they should have come to her with their concerns is a bit rich. So far she has offered no research or discussion on the merits or content of National Standards. She has dismissed questions as just negative stirring, and has refused dialog.

  20. ellenun 20

    @really: preferred party was the one advocating bulk funding at the time.This issues-driven approach to voting really does suggest he’s quite non-partisan.

  21. Adrian 21

    Ellenun, you really have to be careful what you wish for, eh. I hope he is just one of the many who will turn on this bunch of self-serving rorters. Is there one single thing that the Nacts, or is that the Naori Party, have done that’s worked or not been found to be cynical lies. I see that the JK Memorial Cycleway is winning friends up and down the country, leaving councils with half finished tracks and none of the promised money. In this conservative SI town they have seriously arced up a moribund Grey Power ( that appears to have been quietly taken over by right leaners in the past few years but has recently had a clean out and is advocating for strong action against the govt ) and the farmers who are very pissed off about a lot of things. Just how many groups can you get offside with before the tipping point comes.

  22. George.com 22

    I asked the question, how can anyone (the Ministry, trainers, teachers and parents) expect to understand and explain National Standards, when the Minister does not and cannot herself. This video I think explains it best where the Minister is trying to explain moderation.

    http://www.thestandard.org.nz/oh-oh-sound-of-a-minister-floundering
    http://www.thestandard.org.nz/trev-nails-tolley-other-lab-mps-fail/

    • Trevor Mallard 22.1

      After 19 months many parents are now getting the new reports – described to me by a middle class Nat parent as narrow and shallow. Enormous waste of time and money.

  23. My understanding of National Standards is that it is the back door to being able to smash the very strong Teachers Union.

    Canadian Economist Jim Stanford has been in NZ, he works for the unions in Canada, he also has an interesting website http://www.economiceforeveryone.com He demystified the money markets using plain english, no mumbo jumbo to confuse you.

  24. Jenny 24

    With all the problems that will now face the prison service with the banning of cigarettes in prisons. The Corrections Association should follow the teachers lead and boycott this ill conceived right wing knee-jerk action at least until this policy has been trialed.

    capcha – worries

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